June 13, 2018

How to find the time to learn

How to find the time to learn

I think one of the hardest things to do—and it doesn't matter if you're just starting out or if you've been in the industry for years—is finding the time to learn. And it's especially bad if you're a web developer because things really are moving quickly, and it's easy to feel pressured to keep up. (Note: You're always going to be a work in progress. Know what people are doing, but don't beat yourself up because you have your own journey and your own set of priorities. Know what's there to learn, but don't try to learn everything all at once. 😊)

This is also a letter to myself because I've been struggling to fit things into my schedule recently. Come join me—see if we can both find the time to learn!

Wait! It's also important to be consistent

Finding time is one thing. What we often forget is that building a habit so that you can learn consistently is just as important. Nicky Case has written a zine called How Do We Learn?, and it's important to remember this part:

If you excert effort to recall things, spaced over increasing intervals of time, you retain a lot more than studying by "cramming."

A zine that says: If you excert effort to recall things, spaced over increasing intervals of time, you retain a lot more than studying by "cramming."

The problem is that consistency is hard. But being consistent is a big part of what determines your success. When I was new to the gym I thought that I could bang out a week's worth of workouts in a day and see results. It turns out that that's just not how it works. Cramming makes you miserable, and it doesn't get you anywhere.

So see if you can find the time to learn every other day or maybe even once a week to start with! What matters is consistency.

Let's take another example from my life right now: I'm currently trying to learn from online courses like Proximity School, Unbreakable Body, and Duolingo. Unfortunately I've been struggling to fit everything in my schedule. How the hell do I find the time to work on these?

Figuring out your priorities

This is where a little introspection comes in. It's a bit tough, but you have to ask yourself: What matters to me?

Looking at my day-to-day life, it looks like I spend a good amount of time watching The Office. (Yes, I've never seen it!) So now I have to decide: is it more important to me to watch this really good show, or is it more important to work on these online courses first? At least for now, I think I can manage not watching Netflix. Wish me luck!

Note that I'm not saying that it's wrong to watch TV, and you shouldn't be ashamed if you do! It's all about figuring out what works for you and how you spend your time. You get to decide. A good tiny e-book / workbook on that topic is from the folks at 30x500: Slay Your Schedule.

Your goal for Wednesday is to find 3 hours of weekly tasks you can optimize!

Chances are you initially don’t see much you can totally eliminate before your life starts sucking. There’s still a lot of hidden slack in your schedule, in the form of inefficiency. Work expands to fill the time available. Especially creative work, and administrative work.

I also noticed that I spend a lot of time on social media. Again, is this something that is important to me right now? I like to share and learn things from people, so it matters to me a little bit. But what I can do is to reduce the amount of time that I spend there by using apps like Focus to block social media thoughout the day.

What else can I slash off of my schedule? Looking at the online courses that I want to take, I'd say learning español is not the most important thing for me right now. So I'll probably put that in the backburner for a couple months.

Pfew! What did you get to slash off of your schedule?

You can also learn on the job

If you already have a job as a web developer, there might be an opportunity for you to get more out of your work. I was just reading a zine from Julia Evans called "So You Want To Be a Wizard", and it's filled with awesome pointers on how to learn well. Here's a page on learning on the job:

A zine that says: Follow up on bugs I couldn't figure out, volunteer to do work that seems hard, pay attention to other's code, and watch more senior people operate.

What Julia is saying is that you have to be curious and to be open to learning opportunities even if it terrifies you at first. I've been trying to do this at work by getting my hands dirty on designing websites. It still scares me, but I'm learning things that I might not have been exposed to on my own.

And that's it! I hope you got to do some introspection and found some time in your day to work on your projects, work on open source, or take either online or in-person courses.

You can tell me all about your journey by e-mailing me at jag@jagtalon.com.

See ya!